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Allen & Overy, Ropes & Gray, Morgan Lewis: Business of Law

Allen & Overy LLP hired Tran Anh Duc to head the firm’s Hanoi branch. Duc will co-head the banking and corporate practices alongside Adam Moncrieff, who recently relocated from the Tokyo office. Duc, who has been in practice for 18 years, was previously the managing partner at Vilaf, a local Vietnam law firm.

Duc’s practice is a blend of corporate and banking work, with a focus on large scale power projects and debt and equity capital market issuances, the firm said. The addition of Duc will bring the Vietnam team to 18 lawyers across both the Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City offices.

“The combination of our on-the-ground team together with the addition of Duc will put Allen & Overy in an unique position when competing in this market,” Allen & Overy’s Vietnam managing partner Dao Nguyen said. “We are highly ambitious and we believe Duc’s appointment will help us to achieve top tier recognition across all our core practice areas.”

Allen & Overy announced the launch of its Vietnam office in May 2012. The addition of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City increased Allen & Overy’s network to 42 offices in 29 countries around the world.


Ropes & Gray Advises on Berkshire Purchase of Lightower, Sidera

Ropes & Gray LLP advised Berkshire Partners LLC, a Boston-based buyout firm that invests in mid-sized companies, in its agreement to acquire Lightower Fiber Networks and Sidera Networks in a $2 billion deal that will create a fiber-optic network operator serving 6,000 locations. Covington & Burling LLP advised Berkshire Partners on the regulatory aspects of the deal. Alston & Bird LLP advised Lightower. Sidera was advised by Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP.

Berkshire Partners plans to merge the two companies, which will be run by Lightower Chief Executive Officer Rob Shanahan, according to a statement. M/C Partners and Pamlico Capital acquired Lightower from National Grid Plc in 2007. Pamlico, the former private-equity unit of Wachovia Corp. before it was purchased by Wells Fargo & Co., will remain an investor in the new business, as will Sidera backer Abry Partners.

The Ropes & Gray team was led by private equity partner Taylor Hart and included finance partner Sunil Savkar.

The Covington team included partners Mace Rosenstein, Yaron Dori and Matt DelNero.

Alston & Bird’s team was led by Bryan Ives. Additional partners included David Lowance, corporate; Andy Immerman, tax, and Paul Cushing, finance.

Edwards Wildman’s lead lawyers included partners Peter Barrett, Jeff Jefferson and Louis Mercedes.

Berkshire Partners has raised $11 billion since it was co-founded in 1984 by a group including Brad Bloom and Richard Lubin, previously of Boston-based buyout firm Thomas H. Lee Partners LP. Berkshire Partners’ prior investments in communications companies include the acquisition last year of Telx Group Inc., for which it teamed up with Abry Partners, also based in Boston.

Lightower and Sidera build high-capacity networks for customers such as data-center operators, commercial buildings and financial exchanges. Combined, they will have 20,000 miles of network in the northeast, mid-Atlantic and Midwest.

For more, click here.

Barnes & Noble’s Nook E-Reader Unit Gets Investment From Pearson

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP advised Pearson Plc, which agreed to buy a 5 percent stake in the Nook e-reader unit of struggling bookstore chain Barnes & Noble Inc., joining Microsoft Inc. as a backer of the business. Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP advised Barnes & Noble.

The Morgan Lewis deal team was led by business and finance partner Robert Dickey and included tax partner Richard Zarin.

Cravath partners Scott A. Barshay and Andrew R. Thompson, mergers and acquisitions; Stephen L. Gordon, tax; and Paul H. Zumbro, banking, advised Barnes & Noble.

Barnes & Noble shares rose as much as 9.7 percent even after the New York-based company said holiday sales were below expectations and the Nook unit won’t meet its projection for fiscal 2013. Publisher Pearson’s investment values Nook at $1.79 billion, more than twice Barnes & Noble’s market capitalization.

Barnes & Noble is getting a second large investor for the Nook business, which includes digital and college-book businesses, after Microsoft’s April investment valued the division at about $1.7 billion. The bookstore chain has been losing money as it develops and markets the Nook to take advantage of a growing preference for digital books.

Pearson, the London-based owner of a U.S. education publishing business and Penguin Books, is spending $89.5 million in cash for the Nook stake, according to a statement. After the transaction, Barnes & Noble will own 78.2 percent of the Nook unit and Microsoft will hold 16.8 percent. Pearson will have the option to purchase as much as an additional 5 percent, according to the statement.

For more, click here.


Gibson Dunn Partner Wins Appeal for Seahawks’ Sherman

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP partner Maurice Suh advised Seattle Seahawks starting cornerback Richard Sherman, who won his appeal of a four-game suspension for violating the National Football League’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

Sherman, who along with teammate Brandon Browner tested positive for an undisclosed substance, appealed last month based on errors in the chain of custody of his sample and because of mistakes made by the tester, ESPN said. News of the initial ban was reported Nov. 26 and the substance in question was the prescription drug Adderall, a stimulant used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, ESPN said.

“We are very pleased that the hearing officer recognized that the egregious errors that occurred with Mr. Sherman’s collection required overturning the NFL’s discipline,” Suh said in a statement. “Mr. Sherman provided honest testimony about a severely flawed process, and the hearing officer found him to be a credible man.”

George Atallah, a spokesman for the NFL Players Association, confirmed the ruling to USA Today.

The NFL’s drug agreement with its players’ union includes a confidentiality agreement that precludes all parties, including the players, from discussing test results publicly.

“We are reviewing the decision, but decline comment at this time due to the confidentiality provision of the program,” Greg Aiello, a spokesman for the NFL, said in an e-mail.

Dave Pearson, a spokesman for the Seahawks, said in an e-mail that the team would defer to the league.

The 24-year-old Sherman has seven interceptions this season for the Seahawks, who are 10-5 and have clinched a playoff berth. He had an interception and returned a blocked field-goal try 90 yards for a score on Dec. 23 as Seahawks beat the San Francisco 49ers 42-13.

For more, click here.

HP Says Justice Department Has Opened Autonomy Investigation

The U.S. Justice Department opened an investigation relating to Autonomy Corp. after Hewlett-Packard Co. accused the software company of misrepresenting its performance before being bought last year.

Justice Department representatives informed the company on Nov. 21 of the probe, Hewlett-Packard said Dec. 27 in its annual 10-K regulatory filing. The computer maker booked an $8.8 billion writedown related to Autonomy last month after finding that some revenue had been recorded prematurely or improperly.

Hewlett-Packard is cooperating with authorities while Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman works to turn around the company after years of botched deals, management tumult and strategic missteps. Palo Alto, California-based Hewlett-Packard also said it’s providing information to the Serious Fraud Office in the U.K. and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Former Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch, who left Hewlett-Packard in May and refutes the company’s allegations, struck a $10.3 billion deal last year with Whitman’s predecessor, Leo Apotheker, to sell the company he co-founded.

Michael Thacker, a spokesman for Hewlett-Packard, declined to comment Dec. 28 beyond details in the filing.

“We will co-operate with any investigation and look forward to the opportunity to explain our position,” Lynch wrote in a statement Dec. 27. “We continue to reject these allegations in the strongest possible terms.”

In a subsequent statement Dec. 28, Lynch said Hewlett-Packard is “backtracking” by not publishing more specific details about its writedown.

“It is time for Meg Whitman to stop making allegations and start offering explanations,” he said.

Hewlett-Packard also said in the filing that it’s facing several shareholder lawsuits related to the Autonomy purchase.

For more, click here.


Newhouse on Supreme Court Case on Drug-Sniffing Dogs

George Newhouse, a partner at Brown White & Newhouse LLP and a former California federal prosecutor, discusses Supreme Court oral arguments in two cases involving two drug-sniffing police dogs in Florida.

The Justices questioned what limits should apply to police dogs trained to detect illegal drugs. He talks with June Grasso on Bloomberg Radio’s “Bloomberg Law.”

The cases are Florida v. Jardines, 11-564, and Florida v. Harris, 11-817, U.S. Supreme Court, Washington.

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